Patrick's Rants



12/27/2006

A Christmas Review

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,General — site admin @ 9:28 am

It wasn’t a huge Christmas for us, things seem to be getting smaller as far as gifts go, and larger when it comes to family just hanging out. And that’s just fine with me.

The oldest girls got mp3 players made by SanDisk. These play music, video clips, FM radio, show photos in slide show fashion, record and playback voice using the integrated microphone, are expandable with a “microSD card slot” and even come preloaded with songs, photos and a video clip. This seemed like a great gift: mp3 is a highly available format and the video clips are mov format, also widely available. We were (er Santa was) really trying to steer away from locking technology like that provided by Apple – not to mention that these were a third of the price of an iPod.

And then, there on the box was the crippling phrase, “XP SP1”. Having not wanted to send any more money to “Uncle Bill” any faster than I have had to I have stuck to Win98 where possible. I mean, it works, it does what I want, why should I have to pay for “improvements” that don’t do anything for me? Well, the software that came with the players didn’t install on the laptop running Win98. It popped up a message that read, “You are using either Windows 95 or Windows 98. This software requires XP or higher.” and then it closed. And the SanDisk website? Yeah, no drivers available. I’m guessing that this uses the built in drivers in XP, so I couldn’t even use it like a flash drive.

I’ve had “helpful” suggestions from my wife that we could just go buy a computer to make these things work. Um, no. There’s a reason we got the $100.00 devices and not the $300.00 devices, right? I’ve also been offered XP – which would be doggy on these computers and would not be properly licensed. Yeah, um no. Despite the fact that I hate the direction that Uncle Bill has pushed the computing industry I can’t justify an unlicensed copy of Windows running on my computer – and phoning home to tell on me. 😉 Actually, I’ve read that it’s more likely that a valid install will be marked invalid and not get updated than for an invalid install to be marked invalid – but I digress.

Interestingly enough, the e250 does show up when I plug it into my Linux laptop – after downloading the additional drivers that I needed to see when a USB device was plugged in. My old laptop has too small of a hard drive to take care of putting music on these things, but there is another laptop that has been “sacrificed” to the Penguin and is updating as I write this. I have so far been able to play the songs that are on the e250 on the laptop, accessing them just like it was a drive. The next hurdle is to get songs onto the e250, and then to get it working so that the girls can do their own music.

I would have a completely up to date install of Fedora on the laptop except that the CD drive wasn’t reading the burned CDs all that well and I have had to resort to installing the entire operating system from the internet and then updating the really old version that had a net install available over the internet as well.

Updates to follow…

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